An Embellished Western Political Civilization

Posted on Updated on

Wang Tianxi

Political civilization is not some sort of mysterious thing, but it is a social governance form. As long as countries and societies exist, a social governance form suited to its needs will emerge, and   some sort of political civilization will come into being. The core of Western political civilization is “the Western democratic system”, it conforms to the national circumstances of some capitalist countries in Europe and America, and has powerfully moved forward the modernization process of these countries, it is an important component part of humankind’s political civilization, this should be fully affirmed. But in the last century, because their countries were strong, their heads inflated, and the fantasy that they were “saviours” multiplied, the rulers of these countries have embellished these social governance methods that are only suitable to a number of countries as being “universal values” and sold them forcibly to the entire world, they did not even hesitate to launch wars of aggression, bringing disaster and suffering to many places in the world. This sort of acts that is little short of insanity has impelled people to calm down, to see through this sort of “universal value”, and come back to its true colours.

I, Plato’s grudge

Western democracy originates with the Athens democracy in Ancient Greece. Athenian democracy was a crude form of democracy implemented in a city state. Even in such a small city state, the women and slaves who comprised the majority of the population did not have the right to vote or the right to be voted for. Only hale citizens composed the citizens’ assembly, which declared on declarations of war, peace-making, final judicial appeal and other major issues through acclamation or voting. Even so, among those male citizens who held equal voting rights, some were good, some were bad, and there was a wide gap between rich and poor. The decisions they voted through sometimes were completely absurd. For example, the famous thinker and educator Socrates was found by them to have committed the crime of “corrupting the thoughts of the youth”, and condemned to death.

Socrates’ student, Plato, was extremely resentful of this, and strongly censured the Athenian democracy for being “mob rule politics”. Plato was a great thinker who came 124 years later than Confucius, and he already saw the flaws within democracy at the moment of its sprouting. He believed that people’s wisdom, behaviour and abilities were different, and that Ancient Greek democracy denied these difference, by letting all male citizens decide great matters of state by one man, one vote. Such a democracy might lead to mob rule such as the tragedy of Socrates’ killing.

Later thinkers also deeply rethought Western democratic ideas. The French thinker Rousseau, who advocated that “sovereignty lies in the people”, analysed matters as follows in his book “On the Social Contract”: suppose that a country contained ten thousand citizens, according to the idea that sovereignty lies in the people, every citizen may enjoy one 10000th of sovereignty; if a country contained 100.000 citizens, every citizen could only enjoy one 100.000th of sovereignty. And so forth: the larger the country and the greater its population, the smaller the sovereignty that every citizen enjoys, and the worse the effects of democracy are. Rousseau himself has no way to resolve the difficulty that the larger a country is, the smaller citizen sovereignty and the worse the effects of democracy become. Without a choice, he reached a pessimistic conclusion, believing that only in countries with a small population and a small difference between rich and poor, it would be possible to establish an ideal democratic society. Another important French thinker, Voltaire, believed that democratic government was “only suitable for extremely small countries. And even there, mistakes could be made”.

Hayek is a master of Western liberalist theory. He defined democracy strictly as a sort of policymaking procedure, a sort of political method, and not as a final value. He said that only people’s freedom is the final value. In his “Road to Serfdom”, Hayek wrote: “We have inadvertently create a sort of democracy fetishism. Our generation may excessively discuss and ponder on democracy, but they have not sufficiently paid attention to the values that it must serve”.

Hayek’s point is very convincing. There truly are some such people in Western societies, who have forgotten Plato’s’ grudge, and who do not pay attention to the values that democracy must serve, they are only infatuated with creating a sort of “democratic fetishism”.

II, Einstein’s judgment

Einstein was a great natural scientist. But very many people know that Einstein was a terrific social scientist as well. He exposed the control of money over elections, and moved forward people’s understanding of Western democracy.

Western democracy rely for feeding on the milk of capital. In other words, the present Western democracy is democracy dominated by capital, and it is democracy controlled by great financial groups. This sort of nature of Western democracy was criticized already by Einstein. He wrote in his article “Why Socialism”: “Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands […]. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights”. Concerning Western democracy, Einstein’s judgment of “the oligarchy of private capital” hit the mark with one penetrating sentence, any segment of Western democracy can demonstrate the correct judgment of Einstein.

For example, the precondition of democracy is equality between people, and equality between people must be based on people’s independence. The bourgeois revolution smashed the feudal class system, pursuing people’s independence and freedom, this is very good. The problem is: are the absolute majority of people in capitalist societies truly independent? Marx hit the nail on the head when he pointed out that in capitalist societies, people’s independence is “based on dependence on things”. What Marx said to be “things”, meant the means of production and money. If the absolute majority of people in a society do not have means of production, and do not have sufficient money that they can spend freely, their independence is hollow, because they must rely on the small minority of capitalists who possess “things”. The cold reality that money decides everything has already brought utter ruin to the preconditions for democracy.

Another example is that the original idea of democracy was “the people decide”. But in Western democracies, from voting in elections and forming governments to formulating and implementing laws and policies, those truly making the decisions are not the popular masses but the small minority of financial oligarchs. Taking Western elections as an example, all people participating in presidential, gubernatorial or parliamentary elections, must pay “earnest money” according to regulations. If they do not gain a certain level of support in the election, the “earnest money” must be confiscated. Naturally, if someone is a member of a political party, they will gain the support of the party in the elections, and the party will give them subsidies to participate in the election. The problem is that there are many constituencies in a country, and the subsidy that the party gives to every candidate member, added together, is an immense sum. Apart from national political parties with solid financial resources, common small parties do not dare to participate in national election campaigns. It can be seen that only this juncture of earnest money to participate in elections has kept thousands of common people outside the door as groups and parties participate in elections.

The electoral processes in Western democracies are very long, expenses are huge as well, this is sufficient to wear down political parties with limited financial means, and guarantee that the electoral process is completely monopolized in the hands of big financial oligarchs. In the US, there aren’t many large financial groups who can truly control electoral politics. During electoral periods, “Super-Political Action Committees” are extremely dynamic, this sort of committee may receive funds without limits, and provide subsidies to specific candidates.  This provides extremely convenient conditions for large financial oligarchs to control elections.

The US democracy in fact is a money democracy, it is what Einstein called the “oligarchy of private capital”, US rulers know this tacitly. Mark Hanna, who helped William McKinley win the 1896 presidential election, revealed the essentials of this sort of democracy. He said: “To win an election, you need two things. One is money, the second one, I’ve forgotten.”

It seems as if the US president has become a “special privilege” of the rich and powerful. Some people said that the first president, Washington, was a farmer with a petty background. In fact, the father of Washington was a large manor owner, who held more than 10.000 acres of land and 49 slaves. Washington himself was listed by the magazine “Forbes” as one of the “400 rich and powerful” in the US of that time. The 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, regularly talked about being penniless and frustrated when he was young, in fact, his father was a large landowner in Kentucky, and held 600 acres of farmland and a large amount of urban land.

History scholars have calculated that, in all elections from 1860 to 2008, the side with larger electoral funding won. For example, in the 1860 election, the Republican party prepared 100.000 US Dollars, and the Democratic party 50.000 US Dollars, the result was that the Republican candidate Lincoln won. In 2008, during the contest between Obama and McCain, the Republican Party only prepared 300 million US dollars, naturally, Obama won, and became the first black president in US history.

US elections have become political games and extravagant contests, campaign expenses incessantly break new records. In 1980, 162 million US Dollars were spent for the elections, which doubled in 1988 to 324 million US Dollars. In 2000, it shot up to 529 million US Dollars. A new height was achieved in 2004, of 881 million US Dollars. In the 2008 US election, no less than 2.4 billion US dollars was spent.

In terms of the large financial groups contributing to the elections, the electoral process is an investment process. The risks indeed exists, but the reward is very rich as well. Whenever the candidate of a certain political party becomes president, he may immediately reciprocate his paymasters and benefactors. The most direct method is the allocation of official positions, according to the size of political contributions, big and small official positions are allocated to all large financial groups. In the US, in the governments from 1953 until 1980, 23 people assumed the important positions of Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of Defence. Among those, 18 where chairs of large companies, general managers or high-level directors, the five others where big lawyers. Among the 120 high officials that President Truman appointed, 49 were bankers and industrialists, the others were all closely related to large financial groups. During the Eisenhower administration, in total, 272 high officials mainly came from 86 large companies.

A debt of gratitude must be paid in parliamentary elections as well, the parliamentary operations and mechanisms of Western countries are designed to make it convenient for members to do so. In the US, for example, bills must be entered on the parliamentary agenda, and must first and foremost be passed by a standing committee of the parliament. Bills benefiting large financial groups may be given preference in deliberation and passing, bills not benefiting large financial groups but benefiting the popular masses will be delayed endlessly. The members making up this sort of standing committee are not elected, but appointed on the basis of the power of each party, and on the basis of the power of each large financial groups. With such operative mechanisms, it can be ensured that the interests of large financial groups are guaranteed by State laws and policies.

All countries’ parliaments have established time limits for the deliberation and passing of bills, the objective being to prevent that bills not beneficial for large financial groups are passed. Conflicts exist between the interests of large financial groups, this sort of conflict of interests naturally us reflected in the struggle between members of parliament. Sometimes, bills not beneficial to a certain large financial group may break through the pass of the standing committee, and brought to the plenary meeting for deliberation. Under this sort of situation, the members groomed by this large financial group will use tricks in debates and votes to destroy this bill.

According to parliamentary rules, there are time limits to deliberate and pass bills, but there are no time limits for members’ speeches and voting. In 1908, Congressman Ford continued to speak for 18 hours against a bill, one of his fellow party members also spoke continuously for 12 hours, ensuring that the bill exceeded the time limit for a vote and as defeated. Apart from the marathon-type speeches in the Japanese Diet, it has also created a “cow pace voting method”, used to oppose bills that they do not like They use the rule that parliament does not have a time limit for votes, to walk slowly to the voting point, even only taking one step in an hour. Because of this, the time limit for the ending of deliberation is often exceeded, and they have not voted.

If a bill to repay large financial groups is difficult to pass, governments implementing Western democracy even may employ ruthless means to force its passing. In May 1960, the US and Japan concluded the “US-Japan Security Treaty”, which was protested by the Japanese people and resisted by the opposition. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party instigated that their members provoked a clash with the opposition parties, and soon after that, the government dispatched 500 policemen to forcibly drive out the opposition party members from the parliamentary building, so that it was deliberated uniformly by Liberal Democratic Party members. In only 15 minutes, the “US-Japan Security Treaty” was passed.

III, The difficulties of Western democracy

The Western democratic system is a major result of the process of humankind’s political civilization exploration, and it has helped Western countries to be the first to realize modernization. Even so, we must, at the same time as affirming the historical value of Western democracy, bear this fact in mind: the golden age of Western democracy was closely linked with the hegemonic position of these countries in the world. In the one or two hundred years of history until today, Western countries have had strong economic power and military power, and monopolized international discourse power. They were nearly permitted to mould the global order as they pleased. This sort of strong position has enabled the ruling class in those hegemonic countries to seize the wealth of the world and monopolize global assets. they took out a small part from their super profits to win over domestic citizens , forge a welfare society, embellish parliamentary democracy, and push this towards the world, in an attempt to eternally guide the development orientation of human societies.

Power politics believes that the cliques of the wealthy inevitably must be the locality of truth. But, if they cannot fish for super profits abroad as they used to, they may run into inexhaustible trouble. The wealth basis supporting Western democracies has already crumbled in many places. The real economy has been “hollowed out”, and governments and citizens wallow in a virtual economy. They can equally not do without the welfare of leisure and delicious food, and they absolutely do not want to do sweaty and difficult labour. In order to wangle votes, politicians’ phony promises are constantly changing, to continuously raise electors’ appetites. But, after winning elections and holding power, they all must fulfil some of their commitments. How is this to be done without money? The US, Europe and Japan are all printing stacks of bank notes and hugely increasing national debt, they use makeshift measures that compound their difficulties to preserve the “splendid” Western democratic system. As such things have come to pass, the “universal values” of Western democracy cannot only not sustain their case, but have sunk into a deep crisis.

The “universal values theory” asserts that only competitive elections with one votes per person are democratic and legitimate. How about this in fact? Leaving aside that many ballots are manipulated by large wealthy groups, and even if it is true that electors elect a president by one vote per person, that does not demonstrate that he has gained the support of the majority of citizens. Take the US for example, in the 1960 presidential elections, only 62.8% of the electorate participated in the vote. In 1964, voting rates dropped to 61.9%, to 60.8% in 1968, to 55.2% in 1972, to 53.6% in 1976, to 52.6% in 1980, to 50.2% in 1988 and to 49.1% in 1996. Generally speaking, the number of participating voters strains to pass the halfway mark, and those running for victory only get the support of only a part of the people in that half of the electorate. In Bush’s victory in 2004, he gained 51% of the vote. But when considering that the real voter turnout rate in that year was not high, the number of people who really supported little Bush to be president, only made up about 30% of the electorate. Where is the legitimacy of a president and a government of a large country, who only gain so little support from the citizens? Can such an unbalanced democracy call itself a “universal value”?

Checks, balances and supervision in themselves are necessary conditions for democracy, but the US checks and balances on power are numerous and complex. The president, the House of Representatives and the Senate mutually undercut each other, within the two houses, the two parties are also opposed, and they can basically not concentrate their forces to do great things. We see that even though the wheels of the US have already reached the “financial cliff”, congressmen of both parties and the president are still fighting a battle of words. How can this sort of hateful political competition and a tripartite balance of power realize good social governance?

The “universal values theory” asserts that only by implementing Western democracy, it is possible to prevent corruption. This is a deceptive lie. Western democracy only has endogenous elements for corruption. In Italy, it has emerged that three prime ministers and 361 members of the cabinet are corrupt. In the most “democratic” US, in the struggle between factions of the last few years, the tip of the iceberg has been exposed in relation to the inside scene of lobbying groups in Congress and government corruption. If this is investigated, it may well injure the government system and national system of the US, so the mutual exposure that has only just begun might end abruptly.

Essentially, the party competition in Western democracy is a sort of lawful corruption. Between politicians and financial groups, there is an unseverable financial umbilical cord. Financial groups use their money to buy votes for politicians, for those running for president, governor and congressman; the victor uses his official position, preferential policies and programme contracting to reciprocate to their financial group paymaster. Is this sort of large-scale and long-time deal between power and money not the largest corruption in human society?

History has developed until the present, and the halo of Western democracy is dimming in the eyes of people worldwide. Even in Western countries, there are not a few people with a broad vision who have suddenly woken op. They recall the grudge of Plato, they recall Einstein’s argument concerning “the oligarchy of private wealth”, they suffer deep heartache from the worsening of Western democracy, and attempt to put forward a number of reform ideas to overcome the social crisis in Western countries. It should be said that this is a positive phenomenon with global significance.

(This article is a section of Chapter IV of Wang Tianxi’s “On the China Model”. This journal has made appropriate abridgements during editing.)

 

被美化的西方政治文明
政治文明,不是什么玄妙的东西,而是某种社会治理方式。只要存在国家、存在社会,就会出现适应其需要的社会治理方式,就会形成某种政治文明。西方政治文明的核心是“西方民主制”,它符合欧美一些资本主义国家的国情,有力推进了这些国家的现代化进程,是人类政治文明的重要形式,这是应当充分肯定的。但近百年来,这些国家的统治者因其国力强大,头脑膨胀,滋生了“救世主”狂想,把仅适用于部分国家的社会治理方式美化为“普世价值”,向全世界强行推销,甚至不惜发动侵略战争,给世界许多地方带来灾难和痛苦。这种近乎疯狂的作为促使人们冷静下来,去透视这种“普世价值”,还其本来面目。

一、柏拉图的怨恨

西方民主制源自古希腊的雅典民主。雅典民主是在一个城邦中实行的很粗糙的民主。即使在这么小的一个城邦中,占人口大多数的妇女和奴隶都没有选举权和被选举权。只是由男性公民组成的公民大会,通过大声呼喊或投票,决定宣战与媾和、法庭终审等重大事宜。然而,这些拥有平等投票权的男性公民良莠不齐、贫富悬殊。他们投票作出的决定有时是相当荒唐的。例如,伟大的思想家和教育家苏格拉底就被他们认定为有“腐蚀青年思想”之罪,判了死刑。

苏格拉底的学生柏拉图对此非常怨恨,强烈指责雅典的民主制是“暴民政治”。柏拉图是比孔子晚生124年的大思想家,他在西方民主萌芽时期就看到了其内在的缺陷。他认为,人的智力、品行和能力是有差异的,而古希腊的民主制否认这些差异,让所有男性公民一人一票决定国家大事。这样的民主,有可能导致像杀害苏格拉底那种悲剧的暴民统治。

后世的思想家针对西方民主理念,也有过一些深刻的反思。主张“主权在民”的法国思想家卢梭,在《社会契约论》一书中有这样的分析:假设一个国家有一万公民,按主权在民的思想,每个公民可以享受到主权的万分之一;如果是十万公民的国家,每个公民只能享受到主权的十万分之一。依此类推,国家越大,人口越多,每个公民享受的主权就越少,民主效果就越差。卢梭本人没有找到解决国家越大、公民主权越少、民主效果越差这一难题的办法。无奈之下,他得出了悲观的结论,认为只有人口少、贫富差距不大的国家,才能建立理想的民主社会。另一位重要的法国思想家伏尔泰也认为,民主政体“只适合于非常小的国家。即使如此,也会出错”。

哈耶克是西方自由主义理论大师。他把民主严格界定为一种决策程序、一种政治手段,而不是终极价值。他说,只有人的自由,才是终极价值。在《通往奴役之路》一书中,哈耶克写道:“我们无意创造一种民主拜物教。我们这一代人可能过多地谈论和考虑民主,而没有足够地重视所要服务的价值。”

哈耶克说得很有道理。西方社会确实有这样一些人,他们忘记了柏拉图的怨恨,也不重视民主所要服务的价值,只醉心于制造一种“民主拜物教”。

二、爱因斯坦的论断

爱因斯坦是伟大的自然科学家。但是很少有人知道,爱因斯坦还是了不起的社会科学家。他揭露了金钱对选举的控制,推进了人们对西方民主制的认识。

西方民主是靠资本的乳汁喂养的。换句话说,当今的西方民主,是资本主导的民主,是大金融财团控制的民主。西方民主的这种本质,早就被爱因斯坦批判过了。他在《为什么要社会主义?》这篇文章中写道:“私人资本趋向于集中到少数人的手里……这样发展的结果,造成私人资本的寡头政治,它的巨大权力甚至连民主组织起来的国家也无法有效地加以控制。事实的确如此,因为立法机构的成员是由政党选出的,而这些政党要不是大部分经费是由私人资本家提供的,也是在其他方面受他们影响的,他们实际上就把立法机构和选民隔离开来了。结果是,人民的代表事实上不能保护人民中无特权的那一部分人的利益。此外,在目前的条件下,私人资本家还必然直接或间接地控制着情报和知识的主要来源(报纸、电视广播、教育)。因此,一个公民要得出客观的结论,并且理智地运用他的政治权利,那是极其困难的,在大多数场合下,实在也完全不可能。”爱因斯坦关于西方民主是“私人资本的寡头政治”的论断一语中的,西方民主的任何一个环节,都可以证明爱因斯坦的正确论断。

比如,民主的前提是人的平等,而人的平等必须以人的独立性为基础。资产阶级革命打破封建等级制,追求人的独立和自由,这是很好的。问题是,资本主义社会的大多数人真的有独立性吗?马克思曾一针见血地指出,在资本主义社会,人的独立性是“以对物的依赖性为基础的”。马克思说的“物”,就是生产资料和金钱。如果社会上大多数人没有生产资料,没有足够的可以自由支配的金钱,他们的独立性就是虚幻的,因为他们必然要依赖拥有“物”的少数私人资本家。金钱决定一切的冷酷现实已经使民主的前提荡然无存。

再比如,民主的本意是“人民做主”。但西方民主从投票选举、组成政府,到制定和执行法律、政策,真正做主的从来不是人民大众,而是少数金融寡头。以西方的选举为例,所有参选总统、州长和议员的人,都要按规定缴“保证金”。如果在竞选中得不到一定的支持率,保证金要被没收掉。当然,如果是某个政党成员,其参选得到党的支持,政党会给予参选补助费。问题是一个国家有很多选区,政党给每个参选党员的补助费加起来是一个庞大的数字。除了财力雄厚的全国性大政党,一般小党是不敢参与全国逐鹿的竞选的。可见,仅仅是参选保证金这个关口,就把千百万平民百姓阻挡在组党参选的大门之外。

西方民主的选举过程都很长,开销也甚巨,这足以拖垮财力有限的政党,从而保证选举过程完全垄断在大金融寡头手中。在美国,真正能操控选举政治的大财团数量并不多。大选期间,“超级政治行动委员会”十分活跃,这种委员会可以无限额地接受捐款,为特定竞选人提供资助。这为大金融寡头操纵选举提供了十分便利的条件。

美国的民主制,实际上是金钱民主制,是爱因斯坦说的“私人资本的寡头政治”,美国的统治者对此心知肚明。曾经帮助威廉·麦金利赢得1896年总统大选的马克·汉纳就吐露了这种民主的要义。他说:“要赢得选举,需要两个东西。第一是金钱,第二我就不知道了。”

美国总统几乎成了富豪们的“专利”。有人把首任总统华盛顿说成是一个出身卑微的农民。其实,华盛顿的父亲是大庄园主,拥有1万多英亩土地和49个奴隶。华盛顿本人,也曾被《福布斯》杂志列为当时“美国400富豪”之一。第十六任总统亚伯拉罕·林肯经常说自己年轻时多么穷困潦倒,实际上他父亲是肯塔基地区的一个大地主,拥有600英亩农场和大量城区土地。

历史学家统计过,从1860年到2008年历次大选中,竞选经费占优的一方几乎都获得了胜利。例如,1860年大选,共和党筹得10万美元,民主党筹得5万美元,结果是共和党候选人林肯获胜。2008年奥巴马和麦凯恩对决时,民主党筹得6.41亿美元,共和党只筹得3亿美元,自然是奥巴马胜出,成为美国历史上第一位黑人总统。

美国的选举,已经成为比赛奢华的政治游戏,竞选经费不断创造新的纪录。1980年大选花费1.62亿美元,到1988年翻了一番,达到3.24亿美元。2000年,猛增到5.29亿美元。2004年再创新高,达到8.81亿美元。2008年美国大选,足足花掉24亿美元。

对于捐款选举的大财团来说,选举过程就是投资过程。风险肯定是存在的,但回报会很丰厚。某个政党的候选人一旦当上总统,就会立即回报他的金主恩人。最直接的手段是官职分配,按政治献金的多少,把大小官位分配给各大财团。在美国,1953年到1980年的几届政府中,担任过国务卿、财政部长和国防部长等重要职务的有23人。其中,有18人是大公司的董事长、总经理或高级董事,其他5人是大牌律师。杜鲁门总统任命的120名高官中,49位是银行家和实业家,其他人也都与大财团关系密切。艾森豪威尔首届政府中,共有272名高级官员,主要来自86家大公司。

议员当选也要报恩,西方国家的议会运作机制就是为了方便议员报恩设计的。以美国为例,法案要进入议会议程,首先要经过议院的常设委员会。有利于大财团的法案会优先得到审议和通过,不利于大财团而有利于人民大众的法案往往会被无限期推延。这种常设委员会的组成人员不是选举产生,而是根据各政党的实力,也就是根据各大财团的实力进行分配。有了这样的运作机制,就可以使大财团的利益得到国家法律和政策的保障。

各国议会对法案的审议和通过时间往往设有期限,目的也是为了预防不利于大财团的法案获得通过。大财团之间存在着利益冲突,这种利益冲突就自然反映在议员们的争斗之中。有时候,不利于某个大财团的法案会冲破常设委员会的关口,提到议院大会上进行审议。这种情况下,这个大财团豢养的议员们就会用辩论和投票的诡计打掉这个法案。

按照议会规则,法案审议通过有时限,但对议员的演说和投票时间没有限制。1908年,参议员拉福特为了反对一个法案,连续演讲了18小时,他的一个同党议员也连续演讲了12小时,使该法案因超过表决时限而被废。日本议员除了马拉松式演讲外,还创造了“牛步投票法”,用来反对他们不喜欢的法案。他们利用议会没有限制投票时间的规定,把前往投票点的脚步放得奇慢,甚至一个小时才往前走一步。这样一来,往往是超过了法案审议截止时间,他们还没有投票。

如果报答大金融财团的法案难以通过,实行西方民主的政府甚至会动用残暴手段来强制通过。1960年5月,日本与美国修订《日美安保条约》,遭到日本人民抗议和反对党抵制。执政的自民党就指使其议员挑起同反对党议员的冲突,政府随即出动500名警察,强行把反对党议员赶出议会大厅,由清一色的自民党议员审议。仅用15分钟,《日美安保条约》就获得了通过。

三、西方民主的困境

西方民主制是人类政治文明探索过程中的重大成果,它帮助西方国家最早实现现代化。然而,我们在肯定西方民主历史价值的同时,必须记住这样一个事实:西方民主的黄金时代,是同这些国家在世界上的霸权地位紧密相连的。在此前的一两百年历史中,西方国家拥有强大的经济实力和军事实力,独占了国际话语权。它们几乎可以随心所欲地塑造世界秩序。这种强势地位,使这些霸权国家的统治阶级可以攫取世界财富,垄断地球资源。他们从超额利润中拿出一小部分,去笼络国内民众,去打造福利社会,去美化议会制民主,并将其推向世界,以图永久主导人类社会发展方向。

强权政治认为,富裕之邦必是真理之地。但是,假如他们不能像以往那样在海外捞取超额利润,就会遇到无穷无尽的麻烦。支撑西方民主的财富根基在许多地方已经崩塌。实体经济“空心化”,政府和国民沉迷在虚拟经济中。休闲美食的福利一样不能少,流汗辛苦的活儿绝对不想干。为了骗取选票,政客们的空头许诺花样翻新,把选民胃口吊得越来越高。但是,胜选执政多少要兑现一些承诺。没有钱怎么办?美国、欧洲和日本,都在大印钞票,大借国债,用饮鸩止渴的办法维持“美妙”的西方民主制。事到如今,西方民主的“普世价值”不但不能自圆其说,而且深深陷入危机之中。

“普世价值说”宣称,只有一人一票竞选才算民主,才具有合法性。事实又如何呢?且不说许多选票是操纵在大财团手中的,就算真是选民一人一票选出来的总统,也不表明他得到多数国民的支持。以美国为例,1960年总统选举中,只有62.8%的选民参加了投票。到1964年,投票率降为61.9%,1968年为60.8%,1972年为55.2%,1976年为53.6%,1980年为52.6%,1988年为50.2%,1996年为49.1%。总体来看,参与投票的选民只勉强过半,竞选胜出者只是得到这一半选民中的一部分人支持。2004年小布什胜选,获得51%的选票。但是,考虑到当年实际投票率不高,实际上真正支持小布什当总统的,只占全部选民的30%左右。一个大国的总统和政府,仅得到这么少的国民支持,它的合法性何在?如此畸形的民主也配称为“普世价值”吗?

制衡和监督本来是民主的必要条件,但美国的权力制衡重重叠叠。总统、参议院、众议院三家之间往往相互拆台,参众两院内,两党也彼此对立,根本不能集中力量办大事。我们看到,即使美国的车轮已经走到“财政悬崖”边上,两党议员和总统还在打口水战。这种恶质化的政党竞争和三权制衡怎么可能实现良好的社会治理呢?

“普世价值说”宣称,只有实行西方民主,才能防止腐败。这是骗人的鬼话。西方民主制有着内生的腐败元素。意大利曾出现三任总理和361个内阁成员全是腐败分子的情况。在最“民主”的美国,前几年的党派之争,把国会游说集团涉及政府腐败内幕的冰山一角暴露出来。如果追究下去,可能伤及美国的政体和国体,刚刚开始的相互揭露便戛然而止。

从本质上说,西方民主中的政党竞选就是一种合法的腐败。政客和财团之间有一条割不断的金钱脐带。财团拿金钱给政客去收买选票,以竞选总统、州长或议员;胜选者又用官位、优惠政策和项目承包等回报财团金主。这种大规模的、长时间的权钱交易,不是人类社会最大的腐败吗?

历史发展到今天,西方民主的光环正在世人眼中暗淡下去。就是在西方国家,也有不少有识之士猛然醒悟。他们记起了柏拉图的怨恨,记起了爱因斯坦关于“私人资本的寡头政治”的论断,对西方民主的恶质化痛心疾首,试图提出一些克服西方国家社会危机的改革设想。应该说,这是一个具有世界意义的积极现象。

(本文为王天玺著《中国模式论》第四章中的一节。本刊编发时作了适当调整。)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s